Book Review : How to Invest Your Time Like Money

Mar 11, 2015 -

About Elizabeth Saunders, Author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money


Elizabeth Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching and training company, that helps individuals achieve more with less stress. She has trained and coached clients on six continents and contributed to numerous publications include Time and Forbes, Inc. She has also appeared on television networks such as ABC, CBS, and NBC.


Many of us struggle with managing our time. We've tried a number of things to become more organized such as to-do-lists, planners, and even allocating a 80/20 approach where by we spend 80% of our time on the most important things and 20% on more tedious mundane tasks. The bottom line is, we are still stressed. How can we invest your time like money?

"You don't understand. I'm an entrepreneur. I have deadlines I need to meet, and I can't just check in and check out." 

What is great about it?
The first thing Saunders talks about is getting your mind in the right mindset. In essence, empowering yourself to take responsibility for your time investment choices instead of blaming others. What she means by this is managing your own workload. If it means lettings others know that you don't have the capacity to work on their projects or instead of doing their work for them you show them how to fish.

How to Invest your Time like Money is a guide to allocating your time so that the most important things get the most attention instead of getting pushed aside for other competing priorities. Sanders does a great job of providing real examples of how to accomplish this.

One of the major reasons why we feel we need to do so much is because we don't want to let other people down. Or we fear how people might respond if you actually did start to have our time investment under control. Being comfortable with having others forgive you for past mistakes and freeing yourself from guilt is the goal.

The author does a fantastic job providing a number of "harmful" and "helpful" key mental shifts in a tabular format. For example, a harmful mental thought would be if you felt like you needed to take advantage of every opportunity for fear that you would miss out on something important. That can be extremely stressful given that it is nearly impossible to do. On the contrary, a "helpful" mental shift would be one of investing in the best opportunities to be successful. 

Saunders goes through a checklist of actionable items that help in determining your time budget, calculating expectations time cost, identify your time debt, and make cuts. She guides you through figuring out what are your crucial time commitments in a day such as sleep, work, commute, side projects, etc and assigning an allotted time for each. If all of that exceeds 24 hours, you'll need to pare down that list. You do that through determining your priorities. If you value relationships more than business, then you might have to take time away from the business area and allocate to relationships. Focus on big ticket items that will save you hours versus saving minutes here and there.

One of the most interesting concepts Saunders brings up is the idea of "layering". Similar to chunking and multi-tasking, layering is the idea of doing task that require different channels of mental functioning at the same time such as tidying up and then listening to an audio book.

Here is a key excerpt from Chapter 3: Create a Base Schedule:

"Strategic time allocation takes intention, practice and discipline, but the results can feel like a dream come true. In this chapter, we'll go step-by-step through how to create an ideal "base schedule." A base schedule includes all the essential elements in your typical week, such as sleep, recurring tasks, and exercise, but its purpose is threefold: First it helps you see how what's most important to you fits into your weekly schedule. Second, it allows you to clarify how much discretionary time you have to allocate to non-recurring meetings, activities, or projects. Third, it makes planning much easier because most of your schedule is set and you only need to do additional planning for day-to-day or weekly variations (both of which we'll cover in the next chapter."

What is the not so great about it?

Like with most books, the value is in taking what we read and putting in it into action. Otherwise it is just another idea or concept we understand. Saunders does a great job of providing actionable steps to managing your schedule and truly taking control of your time allocation. In fact, just reading it made me feel more at ease. After reading the book, you definitely feel as if you now have a legitimate plan of action to tackle all of your tasks.

On top of working a full time job, I run two side businesses, this blog and contribute to the community through a volunteer organization. Like you, my time is crunched and I'm constantly worrying about this thing or the other. I digress, but the point is all of this information is great, but unless you take the time to implement it, that all that it is - information.

One of the biggest gripes I have with books that say that they can help you manage time is that my argument is that rather than managing time, we are really managing our energy. There is enough time for most things we want to do in the day, but we might not have the energy to do so. When you come back from a nine to five job, you just want to relax. The last thing you want to do is work on more work even if it is a side business. How do we manage our energy?

What is your final recommendation?
Get this book. I said it before and I'll say it again. After I read this book, I felt like I could take hold of my time and allocate it appropriately. The author does a great job of guiding you through what is needed to create a base schedule and then helping you prioritize. Now, it may not be all handed to you on a silver platter and you may need to do some work yourself, but the guidance is there.

To all the workaholics, I'll leave you with another quote from the book.

"As I sat in the first session, I listened to individuals who had worked at their organizations for 10, 20, or even 30 plus years, explain their situation. I will never forget the dejected looks on their faces and the enormous, heavy sense of betrayal and regret. These individuals had sacrificed their health, their friendships, their families for the sake of their work. Then when they had no longer had a place on the org-chart, they were dropped.

What I took away from my experience and theirs was the importance of remembering who really loves you. Unless you work in a family business, the people you work with don't love you. Yes, they may care about you. But in the end, their primary interest is in getting a certain job done. They'll be sad to see you go if you move on, but soon another person will take your place."

Conclusion: How to Invest your Time like Money is a recommended read for those who seek to better invest their time like money. After all, your time is your life. Use it wisely. 
 
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